Conservation and Environment

Woodland saved

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The Royal Borough has stepped in to rescue an area of woodland next to a nature reserve from being put up for auction. The Borough's swift action means the land alongside Arthur Jacob Nature Reserve in Stanwell Road, Horton which had attracted the interest of several potential buyers can now be used to increase the size of the nature reserve and create an even more attractive walking area in the south of the borough.

When the 15-acre Poyle Poplars Woodland, owned by Thames Water, was advertised to be auctioned, there were concerns from many in the local community that this valuable amenity might be lost.



Flood Relief

  Woodland saved



The Royal Borough which has a 20-year lease on a small part of the land, used as a car park contacted Thames Water on 1 October 2009 asking to buy the land. The move was supported by Horton Parish Council, local residents, MP Adam Afriyie and adjacent landowners. Thames Water readily agreed to the request and the borough is now buying the land.




Thames Water

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Cllr Alison Knight, lead member for planning, development and property, said: "Thanks to the fast action of councillors and officers and the cooperation of Thames Water, we have been able to rescue this land for the borough. If we hadn't stepped in, the woodland's new owners could have closed the land to the local community."

Cllr Simon Dudley, lead member for adult and community services, added:  

"This woodland area is a very welcome addition to the borough's collection of parks, open spaces and nature reserves.

"A 2006 survey identified a lack of natural and semi-natural public open space in the southern wards, including Horton and Wraysbury, so it is particularly good news that this imbalance can be redressed and that residents in this part of the borough can look forward to many pleasant strolls around this diverse natural area."

The council plans to incorporate the woodland and car park into the nature reserve by creating a circular walking route with signage, path improvements, fencing and woodland management. Sponsorship will be sought to help fund the work.

Arthur Jacob Nature Reserve, named after a former borough mayor, was officially opened in 1996, having been created from a series of derelict sewage sludge lagoons. Under Royal Borough care the reserve rapidly developed into a haven for wildlife and was designated a Local Nature Reserve in 1999. The reserve runs alongside the Colne Brook and includes areas of reedbed, woodland and meadows as well as tree and shrub planting. The addition of this area of woodland will complement the reserve by offering a larger area and additional interest for visitors, allowing the creation of the circular route and contributing to local biodiversity by providing additional habitats for wildlife.

When I first saw information that Arthur Jacobs Nature Reserve goes on sale, I wrote to the Thames Water Chief Executive, Mr. David Owens asking him to remove the land from auction! I then had a meeting with David Oram, the deputy Chief Executive of the RBWM Council and the Leader of the Council, Cllr David Burbage to see if the Borough could purchase the land for the residents of Horton and Wraysbury. Much to my surprise they said yes!

I have been in the council for only 4 years now and I was very pleased to see that when the council needs to do something in a hurry it does happen! I would also thank all the residents from Horton and Wraysbury who offered their help, support and even money to buy the land especially Debbie Keen and Fr Simon Douglas Lane. I think the sale has now been completed. The hard work now begins as we have to maintain the site and keep it open to public use and free from vandalism, fly tipping, and illegal occupation.

Our both villages must work together to protect this lovely woodland that brings us so much pleasure. It is also true that these trees absorb hundreds of tonnes of carbon monoxide each and produce even more oxygen!

Thank you to the RBWM for buying this land!

Cllr Colin Rayner



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